The door to my bedroom was slightly ajar, enough to let the terrified bunny slip through it. It made a beeline to the bed, and zoomed like Alice’s rabbit in Wonderland down a dark hole, leaving the fringe of the bedspread swinging to and fro where the bunny had disappeared beneath it. It was a sunny summer morning; I was about eight years of age. My eyes were still filled with sleep but I heard the scrambling of the bunny’s paws as it ran into my room, with our cat Pudgie trailing a few hare-breaths behind. This was a wild baby rabbit, no doubt caught outside sunning itself, and our cat saw it as a trophy to bring home. Picking it up in his jaws, Pudgie sprinted homeward just as my mother was opening the porch door.
And they were in!
The cat was startled by my mother’s scolding “No! Bad cat!” and dropped his quarry. The bunny took a quick look around and headed for the darkest place it could find: under my bed. This didn’t last long, since †there was plenty of room under the bed for both rabbit and cat. The bunny finally backtracked to the hallway and then disappeared into the bathroom.
After heading behind the laundry hamper and then hiding behind the toilet, the bunny was finally out of breath and Mom had a chance to capture it.
Knowing that its mother would possibly reject the baby bunny if it was handled, my mother carefully made a nest from a cardboard box and some grass hastily lifted from the lawn. Leaving this in the shade, we hoped the bunny would revive itself and join its family again. But not knowing the internal injuries it might have suffered, we did not have high hopes.
Unfortunately the laws of nature can’t be reckoned with, and within days, the bunny was dead. Predators, lack of reliable food sources, and illness make the life of a wild rabbit an average of two years long at most.
The lifespan of a domesticated bunny, however, is much better. Today the life expectancy of the pet house rabbit is as long as 15 years with attentive care.
Living with a bunny is becoming more and more popular. Just Google “house rabbit” and you’ll find a dozen or more web sites dedicated to the creature’s life and habits, with plenty of information for those who want to make an indoor home for this pet.
Bunnies can be trained to use a litterpan much the same as a cat, and are surprisingly docile and willing lapwarmers too. With gentle handling (and regular claw trimming), bunnies can be a safe pet for children as long as an adult supervises their interaction until everyone is acclimated.
If you don’t care to start with a baby bunny, there are many rabbit rescue groups with full-grown bunnies waiting for good homes. Visit http://www.petfinder.com and enter your information to view rabbits and other pets available for adoption, some even within minutes of your home.
The commitment is the same as with any pet. You must be willing to give a few hours of time a day to feeding, grooming, and cleaning up your petís habitat. You will be repaid with bunny hops – a sign that your rabbit is feeling like a member of the family.